Kitamon Riverside Restaurant

More than just Japanese

There is another Kitamon Restaurant in Chiang Mai, and they are related; however, this week we went to the newer one, Kitamon Riverside, which as the name implies is on the banks of the Ping River.

You enter from the private courtyard, going under a Japanese archway, and the main air-conditioned dining area is on your right. It has sliding doors, so don’t try to pull them open (as I did) and presume they were locked! There are some alcoves with bench seating both sides, or free-standing tables and chairs overlooking ‘rustic’ settings outside close to the river. There are also three private dining areas, a VIP room close to the river that will take more than 20 diners, plus two more on the second floor that will accommodate 15 and 10 customers.

We chose the main dining area, and it was immediately obvious that this was a very clean restaurant. The very friendly service personnel are decked out in black and white ‘houndstooth’ check aprons and matching neckties and look very smart and impart a suitably ‘Japanese’ ambience, heightened by the Japanese lanterns around the sushi bar.

There are three menus, all of which are photographic (a boon for those who are unsure of what they are ordering), with one being dedicated Japanese, another covers BBQ items and the last being a combined Thai and Chinese menu.

There are menu ‘sets’ covering a selection of dishes with most at B. 140, while sushi sets range between B. 140-300. Steaks on hot plates range between B. 100-200, depending upon the meat chosen.

The Thai items are generally between B. 60-120, and the Chinese choices similarly priced.

Local beers are B. 80-90, whilst sake is available and even on tap at B. 240 for 300 ml.

Manager Aphiwat certainly made sure we did not go hungry, offering selections from all his menus. The well known California roll was our introduction to the Japanese side, with a healthy dollop of the green Wasabi and soy sauce to go with it. He must have heard that Miss Terry Diner just loves Wasabi, because our little waitress brought another pat of it unasked! Thank you.

Also from the Japanese menu came a plate of assorted sashimi, complete with salmon, mackerel, crab sticks and octopus (with more Wasabi! Heaven!) and a sizzling hot plate with a mackerel steak (saba) surrounded by onions, capsicum, asparagus and needle mushrooms. This comes with its own special sauces and was a very flavoursome dish.

While still on fish, we also had a deep-fried tub-tim covered with shredded fried Thai herbs, which Aphiwat assured us was good for one’s health. Healthy or otherwise, it had a very pleasant taste, heightened by a very spicy sauce that went with it. Beware!

A pork cutlet also came with special sauce and was very succulent and not dried out at all (and I ate mine with the Wasabi for reasons mentioned before!). We also tried a yaki soba which features the long soba noodles, stir-fried with vegetables and meat, similar to a pad Thai, but with a different touch to the taste buds.

Being lunchtime we washed it all down with the iced Japanese green tea, but if it had been the evening it would not have taken much persuasion to get me into the Asahi draft beer, which at B. 150 for a pitcher is not expensive.

We did enjoy ourselves at lunch at Kitamon Riverside. The Japanese items were of high quality and excellent presentation, reflecting the many years that the restaurant manager Aphiwat spent in Japan. However, what made this restaurant stand apart from the usual Japanese restaurant was the fact that it offered two other cuisines (Thai and Chinese), with dishes of similar quality and presentation. This makes this venue one that you can safely take along friends or family, without worrying whether they will like the food.

Japanese with just that little bit more. Recommended. Definitely worth a visit.

Kitamon Riverside Restaurant, 9 Padad Road, Tambon Padad, Chiang Mai, telephone 053 204 100. Parking in off-street courtyard. Open seven days, 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. or even later.